Lots to dive into from Wednesday’s Media Day with the Washington Huskies. We’ll start with a short video of coach Lorenzo Romar who began the press conference with an opening statement.
I posted snippets of interviews with players and links at the bottom.
(How are you feeling?) “Today is one of my better moods.”
(What happened?) “I can’t tell the specifics of what happened. All I can say is it that it’s not my leg.”
(Are you still trying to resolve what happened or are you okay with it?) “I’m still trying to get through it. I don’t think I’ll be completely over it until the time I was going to play in college is over. All the time that I have left to play, I’m not going to be fine not playing.”
(Who helps you through this?) “My mom. My parents. And these guys. When I (watch) them play, they go out and work hard. They don’t take it for granted and that’s what I think helps me the most.”
(What’s the toughest part?) “Not playing. I’ve been playing basketball since I was 3-4 years old.”
(Can you play pickup basketball?) “I can’t play basketball.”
(Can you have a normal life?) “I can live a normal person’s regular exercise day. I can be active, but competitively I can’t do anything.”
(At some point will you let folks know what’s going on?) “Eventually I’ll be okay with everybody knowing, but not right now.”
(How much do you plan to be around the team?) “I’m still going to be around. I’m going to travel with the team. I’m not going to leave my brothers. I can’t leave my family just because I’m going through a rough time. I’m still going to be there supporting them, putting in my two cents every now and then. I want these guys to see whether I’m on the floor or not I’m still a part of the Huskies.
(How would you describe your freshmen year?) “I think it was inconsistent. I underachieved, but we did great as a team. I think that was the best thing. I think that happens. I just hit a wall and I just have to improve. I went into the summer trying to improve a lot so I can have a much better sophomore year.”
(What areas did you improve?) “I watched a lot of our games from last year and you can just see the different things from high school that I (said) this is different. I could tell that I didn’t shoot when I needed to shoot at that time or that I was thinking too much at certain spots. You could see it on film and I went into the summer and worked on those things.”
(How is your game different with Aziz N’Diaye on the floor?) “Having him in the paint, especially on defense, if you get beat, he can save you a lot of the times. He can change shots, block shots and get rebounds.”
(Can you gamble more defensively with N’Diaye behind you?) “Don’t tell Romar, but you can. You don’t want to, but you can because you have a safety back there. You got Matt (Matthew Bryan-Amaning) to block shots. You got Aziz back there. Once you look at him, you’re going to be scared to go into the paint anyway.”
(How is the team going to manage the preseason hype differently than last year?) “Last year, we went to the Sweet 16. We got most of our guys back. Quincy (Pondexter) is gone so we’ll have a combination of people filling that role. With Elston (Turner) leaving, same thing. We’ll just try to get as far as we can.”
(Is this team better than it was last year?) “I think we have the potential to be, but it’s just potential.”
(How do you see yourself fitting in?) “I’ll just try to get out there. Last year I was more of a spot-up shooter, but I’ll try to get to the hole a little bit more this year and make plays and do whatever I can to help the team win.”
(Different year for you isn’t it?) “It’s a totally different mindset. Last year I was going in pretty much assuming I was going to redshirt. But this year knowing you’re going to play and maybe play a pretty big role on this team that’s a totally different mindset.”
(How?) “I’m more focused this time just learning how things go and now I have to get ready to play and I have to take things more serious because I know I’m going to be on the floor.”
(Did you gain weight?) “I gained about six pounds. Just working out in the weight room.”
(Did you do that for a specific reason?) “Yeah. They want me at 195 at least.”
(Why?) “They just feel like that’s a good weight for me to be at to guard the people that I’m going to guard in the future.”
(Everyone says you’re the best shooter on the team. How does that make you feel?) “There’s some sort of expectation that you’re going to make shots and they get mad at you when you miss a couple of shots. You can’t make everyone. It’s a big role. I appreciate it.”
(Do you have a role yet?) “It’s still being defined. Nobody knows who’s going to start or who’s going to play yet. If anything, it’s probably will be just be a shooter. Be open in the corner, knock down shots, play defense and rebound.”
(Not a bad role for a freshman?) “Not too bad.”
(How good do you think this team can be?) “I think we can be really good. We have a lot of firepower. One day this person is scoring a lot. Another day somebody else is scoring a lot. If we’re all on the same page defensively, I think we can be really good.”
(Does it feel strange being a senior?) “Definitely. I just remember it clearly since I’ve been a freshman. You never think your senior year would come this fast. I’m just ready. Let’s get it out the way.”
(What do you think about when you look back at your UW career?) “I just want to go out having a great season. Last year was a great season and I want to do better than that just to end my career at UW. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team to do that.”
(As a player, have you grown and matured?) “I’m definitely more mature. Trying to be more of a leader to these young guys. I feel like this team has a bright future with the young talent that we got on this team. I’ve been trying to show those guys the right path.”
(Is there more to your game than defense?) “Definitely. I probably didn’t shoot a lot, but if you leave me open I’m going to shoot the ball. This year I’m going to be more effective on offense and make the defense guard me. That will help my teammates also.”
(Who has surprised you the most?) “Scott Suggs. He’s playing really good. He got stronger. Also Darnell (Gant), he’s been working on his shot and he’s knocking down open shots.”
THURSDAY MORNING LINKS:
— Jerry Brewer writes an insightful column on Thomas who is unquestionably the Huskies main gun.
— The big news from UCLA’s Media Day is the good health of the team. With the exception of coach Ben Howland, recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, everyone reported in tip tip shape. The Bruins were racked with injuries last year, which contributed to a 14-18 finish. It’s the third losing season at UCLA in the past 50 years.
— The Bruins are banking on a trio of freshmen to return them to prominence including former Kentwood High star Josh Smith, Tyler Lamb and Matt Carlino.
— Here’s a video from the Daily News of Smith talking about how he reportedly lost 50 pounds this summer.
— Arizona State coach Herb Sendek is breaking in seven new scholarship players, however, the Sun Devils also have an experienced trio in Rihards Kuksiks, Ty Abbott and Jamelle McMillan.
— Looks like USC coach Kevin O’Neill is giving the keys to the Trojans offense to 5-foot-7 freshman point guard Maurice Jones who averaged 30 points, 12 assists and five rebounds as a senior in high school senior in Michigan.
— Stanford loses Landry Fields, the Pac-10’s leading scorer last season, but they return Josh Owens who missed the season with an undisclosed medical condition. Owens is no slouch. The 6-foot-8 junior started 28 games in 2008-09 and averaged 6.9 points and 3.6 rebounds.
— Former Husky star Brandon Roy returns to Seattle tonight and he’s bringing the Portland Trail Blazers who will hold an intra-squad scrimmage at Garfield High. I’m told tickets, which are $5, are still available. Practice begins at 7 p.m.